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By Suzanne

Interview with Patty Duke of "Drop Dead Diva" on Lifetime 6/11/12

Moderator: Devon Sanceda
June 11, 2012
11:00 am CT

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Drop Dead Diva conference call with Patty Duke. During the presentation all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. At that time if you have a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone.

If at any time during the conference you need to reach an operator, please press the star followed by the zero. As a reminder, the conference is being recorded Monday, June 11th, 2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Devon Sanceda. Please proceed.

Devon Sanceda: Hi, everyone. Thanks again for joining us.

Patty Duke: Holy cow, that was terrific.

Devon Sanceda: Patty guest stars on this week episode of Drop Dead Diva airing Sunday on Lifetime at 9:00 pm. Her character being...

Patty Duke: Oh, youíve got to watch. Itís so much fun.

Devon Sanceda: Her characterís name is Rita Curtis and Iím just going to turn it right on over. (James), you can have people start shooting questions toward her.

Operator: Okay. Again as a reminder to register for a question, press 1-4. Our first question is from the line of Jamie Ruby from Please proceed.

Jamie Ruby: Hi, thanks so much for talking to us today. Itís an honor.

Patty Duke: Oh, my goodness, itís mine. Listen. Youíre responsible for dragging me into the 21st Century.

Jamie Ruby: All right, well first I know obviously you didnít tackle this piece in the episode but could you kind of talk about like how...


Jamie Ruby: ...why do you think that might not have?

Patty Duke: Well, I certainly was involved in the motivation of it.

Jamie Ruby: Okay. All right, well how did you get the role? I mean, how did that happen?

Patty Duke: You know, in my world you never know how the hell you got a role. This one came to me as an offer which makes you feel good because youíre not auditioning and after 55 years of doing this, Iím still auditioning mostly but I didnít have to for Diva and Iím telling you, I had a ball.

It was like a vacation. First of all, where they shoot is glorious but I knew that I admired Brooke Elliott - but my god, the first day---it was all I could do to concentrate on my part because she was so fascinating and she had to memorize I donít know must have been 15 pages of monologue. Anyway, sheís a brilliant - I expect to see - a lot of production done by her not necessarily of acting but producing.

Jamie Ruby: Okay, great, well thank you. I really enjoyed it.

Patty Duke: My pleasure, thank you.

Operator: Our next question is from the line of Jamie Steinberg from Starry Constellation Magazine. Please proceed.

Jamie Steinberg: Hi, itís such an honor to speak with you.

Patty Duke: Starry Constellation.

Jamie Steinberg: Thatís right, you are a star in the sky.

Patty Duke: Oh, yes, sometimes.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, Iím happy to see that youíre on Twitter now. I hope your campaign for being Memaw is going well.

Patty Duke: Oh my god, would I - I would die to be Memaw - I would just die and I happen to mention it on Twitter and people picked it up and theyíre rolling with it but I donít know that the folks who do the hiring are interested.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, this is a great role that youíre no pun intended tackling in this episode of Drop Dead Diva so I was wondering...

Patty Duke: It was a hard role because what - I was discovering things - about the role as we went along which makes it far more interesting than to just say okay, this is what it is and thatís that and letís just say the jokes and get out of here. It was a wonderful part. There was not a person on that set who was not gracious and kind and great senses of humor led of course by Brooke.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, it was amazing to watch you in your role. Have you ever had an experience in real life with someone who you saw shoplifting or someone that you watched be nabbed for a crime?

Patty Duke: Bottom line, Iím a chicken. I want to, I wanted to speak up and say oh thatís personís doing something wrong but the part of me that says youíre 65 years old now. Shut up and get out of the way seems to come to the fore more often.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, now that youíre on Twitter, what is it about...

Patty Duke: I tell you what I - I tell you - there is a serious element of this that I do do and that is anything to do with a child. If I see a little maybe 18-month-old child getting kind of rickety on their legs standing in an aisle and thereís no parent around, I just have fits.

Jamie Steinberg: Iím sure.

Patty Duke: I would go over and engage the child and try to remind the parent that, you know, whatever theyíre looking for isnít nearly as precious as what they got.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, itís great to see that youíre on Twitter. How is it? How are you enjoying it and how is it important to you to promote roles like your Drop Dead Diva and your upcoming film project?

Patty Duke: Well, itís again itís so new to me, Iím astonished at the speed with which information is exchanged. I mean, just my husband up until the last role I guess a few days, he has been doing the - whatís it called - this is the typing part...

Jamie Steinberg: Twitter.

Patty Duke: ...but yes, now Iím getting a little jealous so I might just decide to take it on myself.

Jamie Steinberg: Oh, texting.

Patty Duke: Yes. Oh, Iím good at texting. I even do capital letters now.

Jamie Steinberg: Soon weíll get you to smiley faces.

Patty Duke: Oh, yes. About five people have tried to teach me to do the smiley faces. I donít get it. I do not see it, I canít get it but Iím not going to give up.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, what do you think it is about the show Drop Dead Diva that fascinates so many viewers?

Patty Duke: Brooke Elliott. She is a force. She invites you into the most private part of her psyche and you feel safe there. I mean, she is so extraordinary and, you know, there are so many others on that show that are just wonderful and fun. April just kills me but for me the anchor is Brooke.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, thank you so much for all of your time. Itís such an honor to speak with you.

Patty Duke: Oh, thank you. You take care.

Operator: Our next question is from the line of Amy Harrington from Pop Culture Passionistas. Please proceed.

Patty Duke: Hello.

Amy Harrington: Hi there.

Patty Duke: You got quite a name to live up to.

Amy Harrington: We try, my sister and I try very hard to live up to it. Thank you for re-Tweeting us yesterday.

Patty Duke: Oh, what fun.


Amy Harrington: Thatís great.

Patty Duke: ...but itís great to work together.

Amy Harrington: We wouldnít want it any other way. Weíre very, very lucky and she couldnít be here today but she was very bummed that she wasnít going to get to talk to you too so...

Patty Duke: Well, tell her I gave her an excuse...


Patty Duke: ...and I have a feeling that Iím liking this so much that Iíll be doing it again soon.

Amy Harrington: Oh good, thatíll be great. Well, weíll look forward to another chance to talk to you. We recently did an in-depth interview with William Schallert for the TV Academy and he was reduced to tears in talking about seeing you perform on the stage in the Miracle Worker and recalling that memory.

Patty Duke: Oh, I love that man. He is the father I never had, you know?

Amy Harrington: Yes, what are your memories of working with him on the Patty Duke show?

Patty Duke: Well, first of all that heís the consummate professional and then he does a 180 and he acts like a baboon, the troops laughing and forging on but I have been blessed with him in my life. He has been there for me at every turn, good, bad or indifferent and a matter of fact, his computer was hacked recently.

And I mean to call him and suddenly I get this e-mail that his computer was hacked and well, now this is an excuse to call him.


Patty Duke: Of course heís annoyed but heís remarkable.

Amy Harrington: And what do you consider your proudest career achievement?

Patty Duke: Career, hmm. Well, one would expect I guess for me to say the Miracle Worker. Iíve had so many opportunities to ply my craft as it were. I mean, I have roles that I get that nobody even knew about. Thereís one called Birdbath that was done on public television and Leonard Malfee wrote it.

Honest to God, the whole time I was rehearsing it, I didnít know what in Godís name it was about.

Amy Harrington: Okay.

Patty Duke: Okay. I think Iím okay. Iím not going to choke online.

Amy Harrington: Well, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

Patty Duke: Oh, bless your heart. Thank you for bringing up Bill.

Amy Harrington: My pleasure, my pleasure.

Patty Duke: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question is from Diana Daley from the Please proceed.

Diana Daley: Thank you. Ms. Duke, may I say that itís a joy to see you havenít lost the mischievous twinkle in your eye before I begin.

Patty Duke: Thank you, thank you.

Diana Daley: Youíre welcome.

Patty Duke: My granddaughters donít think Iím so funny anymore but...

Diana Daley: Can you talk a little...

Patty Duke: ...I tell you, the last to laugh is to live.

Diana Daley: I suppose all thatís true, thatís words to live by. Can you talk about what appealed to you most in the beginning? When you first read this part, this quirky character like Rita, what drew you to her and how much fun was it?

Patty Duke: I tell you, I had not had that kind of fun on a set in I donít know, maybe 40 years. I mean, the people were so just gracious and kind first of all and Brooke, on my lord, the first day that we worked she had about six single-spaced pages to say and I was the defendant and I was sitting there on my hands doing nothing while this woman is struggling to get through six pages.

Sheís brilliant. Sheís very loving and honest to God, I was just thrilled to have the opportunity. You know, at my age we donít work all that often and Iím a workaholic so Iíve been in withdrawal for quite some time now.

Diana Daley: Well, I saw the clip and it was fabulous and if I could just ask you...

Patty Duke: Is it? Oh good.

Diana Daley: ...oh, itís great, itís great. In what ways did this lighthearted role give you something different to sink your teeth into as an actress rather than the more serious parts like the Miracle Worker?

Patty Duke: Well again, you now know that laughter is crucial to me. To find that line between making you believe what Iím doing and the humor is a very delicate kind of job. I find comedy much harder than drama but Iíll do both.

Diana Daley: Well, I thank you very much and look forward to seeing more.

Patty Duke: I needed a whole lot of energy because Brooke has so much energy.

Diana Daley: Well, thatís true and you must have felt it through the room.

Patty Duke: Oh my God, you canít believe it. The woman is I would say mystical but sheís real.

Diana Daley: Well, thatís wonderful to hear. Iím glad you enjoyed your experience.

Patty Duke: Oh, I had a ball. You know, it was hard for me to leave there.

Diana Daley: Well perhaps youíll be back.

Patty Duke: They were going to have to throw me out.

Diana Daley: Maybe weíll see you again then.

Patty Duke: Oh, then a lot of that rumor going around. I started it.

Diana Daley: Well, I look forward to it. Thank you very much.

Patty Duke: Thank you. Take care.

Diana Daley: Bye bye.

Operator: Our next question is from the line of Kristyn Clark from Please proceed.

Kristyn Clark: Hello. Thank you so much for speaking with us today.

Patty Duke: Oh, thank you for asking.

Kristyn Clark: Great, so I was just curious to know, you know, do you have a favorite moment on set? I mean, Iím sure there were several but is there any that stand out in your head?

Patty Duke: Yes. Oddly enough, it was the scene where the focus was not on me, it was on Brooke and she had pages and pages and pages of lawyer stuff to say and I felt sitting at the defense table I felt that I was being transported by this creature who could not only remember all the words in a row but deliver them with such energy and intelligence. You know, I fell in love with her off the bat.

Kristyn Clark: And, you know, the career as extensive as yours, is there a role that you would love to tackle one day that you have not yet portrayed?

Patty Duke: Yes and itís funny you should ask. The timing is only perfect. All my life I have wanted to play Mary Lincoln. I have missed every production that was done because somebody else did it. I am now a year away or a year in the process of getting ready to play Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. First weíll play it in the museum in Illinois and then - are you ready for this - at the Ford Theater.

Kristyn Clark: Oh, thatís incredible.

Patty Duke: Can you stand it? I canít stand it.

Kristyn Clark: Thatís awesome, well certainly I wish you the best of luck with that.

Patty Duke: Itís going to be a lot of work and I hope I can be half as good as I claim Iím going to be.

Kristyn Clark: Great, thank you so much.

Patty Duke: And thank you.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, press 1-4 to register any questions. Our next question is from the line of Jamie Ruby from Please proceed.

Jamie Ruby: SciFi Vision, hi, again.


Jamie Ruby: So hi, so what out of everything youíve done, whatís been your favorite?

Patty Duke: Oh, thatís interesting to visit. It seems such an obvious answer but it isnít. I did two series with Richard Crenna - the late Richard Crenna, I hate to say that - and I could have stayed in that place in that mode with him for the next 500 years. His work ethic, his humor and his grace. Heís gone now seven years I think and I still miss him.

Jamie Ruby: Well, is there anyone that youíd like to work with that you havenít yet?

Patty Duke: Everyone. I would like to - truthfully - I would feel that Iíd died and went to heaven if I could get the part of Memaw on the Big Bang Theory.

Jamie Ruby: Hopefully you will.

Patty Duke: Iíve started joking about it on Twitter and now itís become a rallying cry.

Jamie Ruby: Weíll rally for that and last, can you imagine working with...

Patty Duke: Those people.

Jamie Ruby: ...itís be fun.

Patty Duke: Iím sorry.

Jamie Ruby: Thatís a good show.

Patty Duke: Just to be in the same room and watch them do what they do would be a thrill.

Jamie Ruby: Yes, crazy show. Do you have any advice for people trying to get into acting?

Patty Duke: Oh, my God. Definitely have a day or night job. We have to be realistic. Itís very hard to be realistic when your passion is so great and you know in your heart that you can do this play or whatever. There must be some reality that says this is one of the toughest industries you can imagine and I will keep working at it but I canít put my entire self worth in it.

Jamie Ruby: All right, well thank you so much once again.

Patty Duke: My pleasure, Jamie.

Operator: Our next question is from the line of Stacy Roberts from Please proceed.

Stacy Roberts: Hello, Ms. Duke. Itís such an honor. Hiya, hi.

Patty Duke: Sheís so sweet. Iím being honest. Well, Iíve loving just sitting, Iím sitting in my den getting all these compliments. Iím going to be impossible to get off the phone.

Stacy Roberts: Call Me Anna is my favorite celebrity autobiography. I mean, it was just amazing. Thank you for sharing.

Patty Duke: Oh, my God, is that right? You know, it was of course a momentous time in my life and Iím now amazed that I actually did it, that I actually told my most personal insane behavior in that book. I have been rewarded for 30 years now with people saying I was reading it and I realized oh my God, thatís what Iím doing. Wow. Itís powerful stuff.

Stacy Roberts: It was very powerful and thank you so much for sharing.

Patty Duke: Thank you.

Stacy Roberts: Now on to Drop Dead Diva, how much are you like Rita?

Patty Duke: I think thereís quite a bit. I was going to say not much at all but I just realized that yes, thereís a lot of me in Rita. I donít know that I would be as bold as Rita under the same circumstances. I had to go way inside and find that kind of brass.

Stacy Roberts: And what was it like because for me like when I put on - when I saw you working with Valerie Harper - I mean, to have two TV legends working together like that...

Patty Duke: Wasnít that something?

Stacy Roberts: That was amazing.

Patty Duke: It was such fun. You know, we were never together. She was on the bench and I was at the events table but at the coffee table, we had a ball but I really felt the mile marker that we were at least in the same space doing what we do. She was so funny.

Stacy Roberts: So were you in this. You were great in this as in everything that you do.

Patty Duke: Oh, honey, thank you.

Stacy Roberts: And we do have to get you to be Memaw on Big Bang Theory.

Patty Duke: Yes, come on, enough is enough.

Stacy Roberts: I know, your soft kitty was great.

Patty Duke: My granddaughter made me do that. My 11-year-old granddaughter called me up and said Nanna, go now, use the whatever camera youíve got and do soft kitty. Now, the me of yesteryear would have said Iím not going to do that. Thatís ridiculous. Thatís so bold. I tell you within 10 minutes it was done.

Stacy Roberts: And it came out great.

Patty Duke: She gave me the faith to do it.

Stacy Roberts: You know, on that note your boys came out amazingly. I mean, you did a great job with Mckenzie and Sean.

Patty Duke: Did they ever. Oh no, thatís in spite of me.

Stacy Roberts: No, itís because of you but what is the secret that, you know, so many Hollywood kids donít turn out as good as your two boys.

Patty Duke: I think again Iím not absolutely sure but I think that the trouble that we went through during my bipolar undiagnosed time, they opted to really step up to the plate and it was incredibly awful for them. They just had a terrible childhood and somewhere they found that to forgive is divine and thatís how they treated me. See, Iím Miss Divine.

Stacy Roberts: Thatís what Iím going to call you from now on. Forget whatís her name, Bette Midler. You are Miss Divine.

Patty Duke: I love it.

Stacy Roberts: Thank you so very much.

Patty Duke: Thank you. Take good care.

Operator: And we have a follow-up question from the line of Jamie Steinberg from Starry Constellation Magazine. Please proceed.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, again thank you so much for taking such an enormous amount of your time to answer all of our questions.

Patty Duke: Are you kidding? Itís all about me. Iím having a ball.

Jamie Steinberg: What was the most challenging part for you to play in this Drop Dead Diva role?

Patty Duke: It was difficult for me to make how much of a decision to make to be like the dead sister and to show you just a little bit of the Rita that exists but for me it was complicated partially because I played the twins so many years ago.

Jamie Steinberg: Really?

Patty Duke: I wanted, yes, I wanted this to be a little more realistic I guess. The twins, they were very good at what they did but each one was one note if you think about it. I had to take stuff away from one in order to have the order and this time I didnít. This time I got to walk both sides of the street.

Jamie Steinberg: Now as a twin myself, I definitely have to...


Patty Duke: Oh, really!

Jamie Steinberg: ...yes, Iím an identical twin.

Patty Duke: Oh, for heavenís sake.

Jamie Steinberg: You represented us right in your roles.


Jamie Steinberg: Do you still get a kick out of people who come up to you with their children and say this is my child. We watched the film together. You know, the film still does resonate.

Patty Duke: I get a kick out of it and I get a bigger kick when they sing the song and they know all the words. People come up to me in airports and ladies rooms and theyíll break into song.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, itís...

Patty Duke: Itís so much fun to be part of some larger culture, you know?

Jamie Steinberg: Yes, it is. Itís such a great, you know, part of peopleís childhood. It was a definite big part of mine. What were some memories you have from your childhood that really still resonate with you?

Patty Duke: The actors who played the family members really not only saved me but brought me great joy during the day when weíd work because unfortunately it was not so swell at home so their intelligence, their love, their caring is just emblazoned into my heart.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, we definitely have to say about the same for you. You really make a childhood, you make an adulthood for that matter with such incredible roles like this Drop Dead Diva one so thank you so much.

Patty Duke: Oh, my goodness. My head is getting so big I wonít get out of this room.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, itís so much fun to hear your giddy laughter. I canít...


Patty Duke: Iím a giggler, Iím a giggler, yes.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, Iím on Twitter right now live Tweeting to your fans. What would you like to say to all of them?

Patty Duke: Send heat. I live in North Idaho and itís all of 60 degrees today. Thatís after two weeks of rain. Now whoever says they have a house for me available where itís warm, weíre in.

Jamie Steinberg: Youíll jump.

Patty Duke: Immediately.

Jamie Steinberg: Well, thank you so much again for all of your time.

Patty Duke: It was fun, thank you.

Operator: Our next question is from the line of Keshaunta Moton from Please proceed.

Patty Duke: Thatís cute. Hello?

Operator: Ms. Moton, your line is open.

Patty Duke: Ms. Moton?

Operator: Ms. Moton, please re-register. Our next question is from the line of Jamie Ruby from

Jamie Ruby: I can go again, thatís fine. So you have obviously done a lot of work before this but is there anything new that you learned about yourself after being on Drop Dead Diva?

Patty Duke: Yes. I had been going through a time where I kind of was doubting that I really could do it anymore. Part of that is because we older ladies donít get cast as often so what I learned was something I already knew but had allowed to get kind of hazy and that is if I put one foot in front of the other and do my job, I can be proud of the work I do.

Jamie Ruby: And you should be. So also I wanted to ask...

Patty Duke: But thereís never enough work, you know, weíre terrible all us old ladies, weíd love to be working.

Jamie Ruby: Youíve done so many different roles though. Which do you enjoy doing more, TV, movies, even theater?

Patty Duke: I have to tell you theater. I find joy in some TV or movies and all that but the bottom line is theater is where I want to be most of the time.

Jamie Ruby: Great.

Patty Duke: And again, itís just to (work some) clichť reasons. Iím sorry, go ahead.

Jamie Ruby: Well, no, I was going to say on that note, do you enjoy doing like dramatic - I know you said comedyís harder for you - but do you enjoy doing, you know, drama more than comedy or does it really not matter as long as youíre, you know, doing something that you love?

Patty Duke: It really doesnít matter as long as Iím invited to the party.

Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Well, thank you. Itís been a pleasure.

Patty Duke: Thank you.

Operator: And Keshaunta Moton has requeued. Please proceed.

Keshaunta Moton: Iím sorry, I had the mute button malfunction. Hi. Thank you for taking our questions.

Patty Duke: Oh, howíd you figure it out? I would have been dazed.

Keshaunta Moton: I didnít know what was going on. You spoke earlier...

Patty Duke: Well, Iím sure glad you fixed it.

Keshaunta Moton: ...(unintelligible) thank you. You spoke earlier about that you learned not to put your self worth into the industry. Like, can you speak more on what led you to this?

Patty Duke: Oh, I didnít say I learned that. I was saying that was my advice. Oh, gee, I learned that because if I donít get a part, I get excuse me but pissed.

Keshaunta Moton: Okay, and aside from Drop Dead Diva and the Big Bang Theory, what other TV shows do you currently enjoy?

Patty Duke: Oh, Smash. I love Smash.

Keshaunta Moton: Okay.

Patty Duke: Mostly Iím a news watcher and a public TV watcher but I like all that skullduggery theyíre doing at Smash.

Keshaunta Moton: And can you envision yourself going on Smash?

Patty Duke: Maybe theyíll adopt me.

Keshaunta Moton: Iím sorry?

Patty Duke: I said maybe theyíll adopt me, the Smash people. Iím sorry, what were you going to say?

Keshaunta Moton: Can you envision yourself at Smash? Is that something youíd like?

Patty Duke: Uh huh, big time.

Keshaunta Moton: Would you try out for Marilyn?

Patty Duke: I mean, you must get the gist. I just like to work. I donít care where, I donít care why. I just want to work.

Keshaunta Moton: Okay, thank you for taking our questions.

Patty Duke: Sure thing. Thank you.

Operator: There are no further questions from the telephone lines.

Devon Sanceda: Patty, is there anything you want to add?

Patty Duke: You make it easy. No, just a giant thank you. The appreciation is genuine.

Operator: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen that does conclude the conference call for today.


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